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Magna T 200
Ferromatik UK together with Milacron showed the new Magna T Servo machine to the UK injection moulding market for the first time in June. A 50 tonne unit was on the Milacron stand at PDM Event 2016 on 14 and 15 June, organised by Plastics News Europe publisher Crain Communications.
The multi-purpose machine’s toggle mechanism is optimised for fast cycling and reduced platen deflection, and its servo motor design has increased reliability and lower maintenance costs, said Milacron.
The series is available from 50 to 550 tonnes clamp force, with ten machine sizes, ten injection units and screw diameters from 18mm to 100mm.
Ferromatik UK managing director, Graeme Padfield, said: “This machine series provides a high specification yet low cost proposition to the custom, medical, packaging and automotive market.”
In the US industry, more than 3,000 units have been installed since 2009, and now it has received CE Certification, the Magna T Servo is being made available in Europe.
Photo by Les Produits Plastitel Thermoformed "pods" used in Stryker Corp.'s Isolibrium patient bed won the Grand Prize at the Plastics for Life competition.
The use of thermoformed plastic products is set to rise markedly due to improved technologies, according to a US-based research firm.
BCC Research’s new report 'Thermoformed Plastics: Global Markets' revealed that in several key applications, thermoformed plastics are competing favourably with injection moulding and other plastic processes.
Thermoformed plastics are involved in several important applications such as rigid food and healthcare packaging, automotive, building products, appliances, and a wide array of consumer and industrial/commercial products. These plastics compete with injection-moulded and blow-moulded plastics along with non-plastic materials such as glass, paper and metals.
The global plastic thermoformed plastic market is expected to increase from 8.3 billion pounds in 2016 to 10.2 billion pounds by 2021, which corresponds with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3%.
Advances will be driven by above-average growth in tubs, cups, bowls and lids used in foodservice applications and the packaging of foods such as baked goods, frozen products, fresh produce, meat and dairy products. Opportunities in pharmaceutical blister packaging will also add to the market. Other end uses include cosmetics, toiletries, hardware, sporting goods, electronic products and consumer goods. The latter category includes appliances, lawn/garden equipment along with recreational and sports products.
Growth in appliance applications will be increased by the benefits of plastic sheet, which offers lower weight, moisture and corrosion resistance and excellent design flexibility. Yet, these applications will expand somewhat slowly due to increased appliance longevity.
Sheet demand in the auto sector will also increase, said the report, due to the need for lighter weight and fuel-efficient vehicles with instrument panels leading the way in auto interiors along with the potential of plastic windshields and windows. There has also been increased usage in several exterior auto parts as well.
The increasing use of thermoformed plastics, especially in the rigid packaging market led by the food industry, is a key market driver. These plastics also have significantly impacted several key markets as a means of replacing glass, metal and paper packaging in addition to blow-moulded and injection moulded plastics.
"In sectors such as food, medical and other packaging, moisture control is often critical and thermoformed products have been used with barrier films to provide excellent packaging materials," said BCC Research analyst Mel Schlechter.
"The concept of 'thinwalling' in many packaging applications has been another major driver for thermoformed packaging."
A 15-year legal battle that lasted more than a decade is now over, the long-time combatants, Husky Injection Molding Systems and Mold & Hotrunner Technology, announced 9 June.
Husky and MHT announced “a joint agreement to settle all pending disputes regarding issues concerning trade secrets,” according to a news release issued by the companies. “After many years of litigation, Husky and MHT have decided to amicably resolve any differences relating to this dispute. The terms of the settlement are confidential and both Husky and MHT look forward to closing this chapter to continue focusing on their respective businesses.”
The agreement came after “many months of discussions,” the statement said.
Husky is based in Bolton, Ontario, Canada. MHT is based in Hochheim, Germany.
Mold & Hotrunner Technology was founded in 1996 by former employees of Husky’s preform mold plant in Wiesbaden, Germany. Husky had closed the factory earlier that year and moved the mold operation into its manufacturing plant in Luxembourg.
Husky had claimed that MHT took secret Husky computer-aided-design files when it created its own preform moulds. MHT denied that.
Husky filed a lawsuit against MHT in 2001. The first court ruling in the legal skirmish came in 2003.
A Sacmi compression moulding machine
Italy-based Mitaca has, together with fellow Italian company Sacmi Group which makes equipment for plastics packaging, ceramics and food processing, worked on an investment project for the manufacture of high quality drinks pods.
This has resulted in Mitaca installing two Sacmi CCM compression presses and technology which, the companies state, will produce the best quality pods in the shortest time. The system allows control over every pod being manufactured and the technology sees plastic extrusion at lower fluidity indexes and at lower temperatures.
The machinery has led Mitaca to be able to gain a high productivity rate of around 600 pieces per minute.
It has also enabled the company to create lighter pods, weighing 2.15 grams. The Sacmi machine ensures improved thickness control of the pod bottom, allowing maximum repeatability over time and guaranteeing the hermetic seal of every single pod, states Sacami.
The Sacmi Group generated sales of €1.35bn in 2015.
Photo by PRW The event focused on soft touch, grained and other in-mould decorative finishes, as well as different processes to provide high gloss and scratch resistant surfaces.
The event focused on soft touch, grained and other in-mould decorative finishes, as well as different processes to provide high gloss and scratch resistant surfaces.
Emerging technologies for automotive interior applications geared discussions at an event at Engel UK last week.
More than 200 injection moulders and 50 representatives from co-host Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) were at Engel’s Warwick offices for a two-day event which focused on soft touch, grained and other in-mould decorative finishes, as well as different processes to provide high gloss and scratch resistant surfaces.
A fully electric Engel EM220 was shown together with a Hennecke Streamline PU dosing system running a Clearmelt application.
Engel UK managing director Graeme Herlihy said: “Motivated by the need for improved quality surfaces as well as cost down, Engel together with various partners, have given much attention to the development of new techniques for the manufacture of automotive interior parts with more and more attractive surfaces.
“But for these processes to reach a commercial reality, we need the original equipment manufacturer to be on board so that the surface fits to the whole cockpit interior.”
JLR lead engineer, materials engineering Ian Ray, said: “We at JLR are known for our high quality interiors and we need to hold on to this advantage in the market.
“Engel offers an impressive array of new processes for interior applications, and it is important that JLR has the option to be able to use such technologies in future platforms should the need arise.
“For these possibilities to be available to JLR we need the supply chain to embrace the techniques, and consequently I was happy to collaborate and partner with Engel in putting on this event to promote the technologies.”
Photo by Caroline Seidel Michael Wittmann at Fakuma.
Wittmann Battenfeld is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year — and officials are planning a celebration in Vienna in June.
The founder, Werner Wittmann, is an engineer-type who speaks several languages and enjoys going to China. In those four decades, he has led an expansion of his company from a maker of water-flow regulators for mold-chilling water, and mold temperature controllers.
Then came Wittmann robots, as the company bought a robot maker in 1983.
Through a series of acquisitions, Wittmann grew into a full-line manufacturer of auxiliary equipment.
Then in April 2008 came a blockbuster deal: Wittmann bought the Battenfeld injection moulding press business in Kottingbrunn, Austria. Battenfeld was insolvent, and a previous owner had closed a factory in Meinerzhagen, Germany, that made large-tonnage machines over 1,000 tonnes of clamping force.
Battenfeld had undergone a tumultuous few years, gone through several owners and faced lots of uncertainty. But Battenfeld played a key role in new developments in injection molding technology, as one of the European pioneers of important gas-assisted moulding, water-assist, all-electric machines, micromoulding and other innovations. The company also was an early machinery supplier to target injection molded polycarbonate car windows.
Ownership by Wittmann brought stability. And, as a family-owned business, Wittmann Battenfeld has a big advantage, according to Sonny Morneault, vice president of sales at the operation in Torrington, Connecticut, Wittmann Battenfeld Inc.
“There are many advantages, but I think the most important is the ability to be nimble,” Morneault said. “We're nimble and quick on our feet. That's an invaluable benefit, for sure.”
Werner Wittmann's sons, Michael and Thomas, play key roles. Michael, the CEO of Wittmann Battenfeld, has become the public face of the company. Michael also is general manager of the Wittmann Group, the sole owner of Wittmann Battenfeld. His brother Thomas Wittmann, who handles production operations, runs the company's manufacturing and assembly plant in the city of Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary.
And Michael has a school-aged son who has started working in the factory.
A big recent move was Wittmann Battenfeld's 17,220-square-foot expansion in Kottingbrunn — so the company now can make bigger presses, up to 1,600 tonnes.
For Morneault, working at the family-owned Wittmann Battenfeld was refreshing after his job at Emerson Electric, a huge conglomerate, where he held engineering positions at the Branson Ultrasonics operation in Connecticut. He worked at Branson from 1989 until mid-2007, when he moved to Wittmann Battenfeld.
“You were literally just a number, and the customers were just number,” Morneault said of Emerson Electric. “They cared about one thing and that was profits. And for me to leave that company and go to a family-owned company was amazing.
Morneault thinks the company's business could double within the next 10 years. But during the inevitable twists and turns, top executives can answer employee questions.
“If we have an issue Michael is a phone call away, and does not have to consult any other shareholders to make major business decisions,” he said.
Golden Electric machine on display at the Arburg hall 22 opening ceremony
In this feature for Plastics News Europe, David Vink reports from Arburg's 2016 Technology Days event on the family-owned group's new production hall and new electric drive machine.
A record 6,500 participants from 54 countries visited the 2016 Technology Days open house at the Lossburg, Germany headquarters of injection moulding machinery producer Arburg in March. Many of the participants attended the official opening ceremony of the new assembly hall 22 in the evening before the event started.
Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of the VDMA KuG association of German plastics and rubber machinery producers, spoke about the importance of family-owned and -run companies such as Arburg to the success of the German machinery industry.
Kühmann said 110 of the 220 member companies of VDMA KuG are family-run. They take the long view and instead of being “concerned about their quarterly results, they look beyond that to the next generation”, he said.
He praised Arburg, which – along with many other family-run companies – did not cut back on staff during the financial and economic crisis in 2008-09, despite a 60% drop in injection moulding incoming orders at the time. It was this approach, Kühmann said, that resulted in Arburg leaving many of its competitors behind when the crisis ended and was followed by an upturn in business.
In his address by video link from the US, Bill Carteaux of the Society of the Plastic Industry presented a global manufacturing competitiveness ranking chart, with China leading, followed by the US, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the UK. But he pointed out that the US is expected to top the chart in 2021, followed by China, Germany, Japan and India, with the UK expected to be overtaken by Mexico by then. The study was made by Deloitte consultants and the US Council on Competitiveness.
Arburg’s new assembly hall 22 adds a further 18,600 square metres production area floor space. Managing partner Michael Hehl put this in perspective by telling Plastics News Europe that the available production area has now reached 165,000 square metres as a result of adding the new hall.
Technical director Heinz Gaub said it has been the rapid growth of business in larger (250-500 tonne) machines that has driven the need to increase production capacity with the new hall. The previous investment in a new assembly hall had been in 2000 with hall 21, which has 22,100 square metres floor space and is equipped with four assembly lines using 88 cranes.
Cranes previously installed at Arburg have not exceeded 20 tonnes lifting capability, so the presence of a number of 40-tonne cranes in hall 22 led to speculation among journalists that this could indicate Arburg will introduce a new larger machine at K 2016, exceeding its present 500-tonne limit.
Referring to K 2016 the day after hall 22 was opened, Michael Hehl said: “The only thing I have to say on this subject is that there is a time and a place for everything. The Technology Days are the Technology Days and the K is the K. And as an injection moulding company, we have to ‘dose’ our information.”
But he continued: “The one thing you can be sure of, however, is that you won’t be disappointed by the surprises we have in store at the K. Anyone who knows us will be well aware that Arburg is always full of surprises – especially at the K.”
Gaub hinted Arburg may use K 2016 to reveal an enhanced version of its Selogica control system, which would overcome Selogica’s drawbacks of lacking hot-plugging and self-configuration capabilities.
At the hall 22 opening ceremony, Gerhard B?hm was introduced as the new managing director for sales, with Helmut Heinson retiring after 11 years in the position. Heinson jokingly made the handover to B?hm by passing on the crystal glass ball that he has used at press briefings in the past to illustrate that business developments cannot always be foreseen.
Heinson and B?hm jointly announced a new Golden Electric 5-point, double toggle-clamping, electric drive machine at the ceremony. Like the Golden Edition series, introduced on the occasion of Arburg’s 50th anniversary in 2006, the Golden Electric is also competitively priced. Heinson said the Golden Edition has been a success story, and accounts for one-third of all machines produced at Arburg today.
There are four clamping forces of 60, 100, 150 and 200 tonnes for the Golden Electric and Heinson said the machine “covers 70-80% of applications”. He described the machine as “a German workhorse for the international plastics processing industry, made by Arburg in Lossburg. It has the same price as an equivalent hydraulic machine and you can order it tonight.”
This is quite an achievement, as electric drive machines have been faced with hydraulic machine prices falling over the years.
Main innovations of the new machine are a central greasing unit and an injection unit that swivels out for ease of maintenance and machine adjustment – a similar approach to that used for extrusion machinery barrels. These innovations mean “the machine is always in movement with little down-time, which means more profit in the pocket”, B?hm said.
Michael Hehl referred to both the Golden Edition and new Golden Electric series as “entry-level” machines with attractive price/performance ratios, the latter machine meeting customer demands for high performance, energy-efficient production of demanding parts.
Arburg put all four sizes of the Golden Electric machines on show running live during the Technology Days open house. For example, The 60-tonne 370E moulded Akroloy ICF40, a 40% short carbon fibre reinforced PA66/PA61/6T blend developed by compounder Akro-Plastic with recycled carbon fibres from, for example, BMW i-series car production.
The black part produced was a standard letter opener, traditionally used by Akro-Plastic to demonstrate its compounds. The letter opener weighed 12g and was moulded in a single-cavity mould with 23s cycle time. The 150-tonne 520E moulded a thermostatic radiator valve cap in Styrolution’s Terluran GP35 grade of ABS, as a part weighing 24.5g, in a 4-cavity mould with 32s cycle time.
Hehl said Arburg does not want the Golden Electric to cannibalise existing Arburg electric drive machines – or the company’s hydraulic machines, for that matter – but that the aim is to “take on additional market share with the new machine series, not just in terms of price, but also technically”.
Gaub said: “As is known, foreign sales account for 70% of Arburg’s turnover and although the US and Japan are markets where customers always bought electric machines for high precision moulding, these have not always been from Arburg.”
Arburg is not seeking to convert customers from hydraulic to electric drive with the new machine, said B?hm, but is aiming at those who have always used electrical drive machines – “that’s where the growth will come for the Golden Electric”, he said. Arburg expects it to become clear in 2017 how much Arburg’s share of electric machines will have been increased with the Golden Electric introduction.
The lightweighting highlight at the 2016 Technology Days was a live demonstration of foam moulding a car glove box cover using the Profoam foam moulding process, developed jointly by Arburg and the IKV plastics processing institute in Aachen.
The glove box covers were moulded in a Krallmann mould partially laser-textured by J & F Kruth on an A630H hybrid drive machine in Covestro’s Makrolon SF 800Z, a 5% milled glass fibre reinforced flame retardant medium viscosity polycarbonate. Covestro showed the part at Fakuma 2015, where it had been moulded in its Makroblend PC/ABS material.
Both examples have featured use of Integrat segmented variothermal rapid heating and cooling (RHC) temperature control from GWK in order to provide high gloss and closely replicated textured surfaces on the one part. As IKV also showed at its biannual Colloquium in February, Arburg demonstrated the effect on the high gloss and textured surfaces caused by switching off the close contour RHC temperature control at one end of the part.
The glove box moulding weighed around 190g and was produced in a single-cavity mould with 60s cycle time. Heinz Gaub stressed Profoam advantages of being able to use a standard Arburg 3-zone plastification screw and the high retention of glass fibre length when processing long glass fibre reinforced plastics.
The weight of the glove box had been reduced from 279g for a compact moulding to 190g with Profoam. The low viscosity of the process helps here by cutting wall thickness down from 2.5mm to 1.5mm, although this characteristic can also be used to increase strength with higher fibre content.
In a Technology Days presentation on latest trends and developments in lightweight construction, Manuel W?hrle, Arburg senior sales manager for lightweight projects, talked about a range of processes, including Profoam, PCIM – particle foam injection moulding, which Arburg also demonstrated at the event – overmoulding organic sheet and the fibre direct compounding (FDC) process that Arburg has shown with PP and PA on previous occasions.
W?hrle gave an example of how using FDC can cut compound material cost to €1.48/kg compared with €2.65/kg for ready purchased 30% long glass fibre reinforced PP compound. He based the calculation on €1.40/kg for PP resin (67%), €1.30/kg for glass fibre rovings (30%) and €3.50/kg for bonding agent (3.5%). He warned, however, that although there are flexibility benefits when the moulder uses FDC, it also takes over responsibility that would otherwise be carried by a compounding company, as “changing the process changes the part”.
The third generation KCC series was exhibited at Chinaplas in Shanghai
Germany-based blow moulding machinery maker Kautex Maschinenbau exhibited the third generation of its KCC series of extrusion blow moulding machines at the Chinaplas trade fair in Shanghai, China in April.
The KCC series has been produced in Shunde, China since 1997. The third generation model has a number of new and revised technical features and has also been completely redesigned to reflect the company’s new visual identity.
The new series is more compact, taking up less floor space and, according to the company, has better accessibility, making it easier to service and shortening change-over times. Moulds can now be changed from the side and products are discharged from the rear of the machine.
The company plans a gradual introduction of the new machine until the switch-over of the entire KCC range has been completed.
Mark Lueddecke, vice president of Kautex in Shunde, said: “We offer KCC machines for all kinds of consumer and industrial packaging applications as well as for the automotive sector. This high degree of flexibility is precisely why this machine series has continued its success for almost twenty years.”
The company also demonstrated its KSB suction blow moulding machine at the fair. This new machine type was specifically designed for low-flash production of 3D-moulded parts such as plastic exhaust ducts for the automotive sector. Controlled using Kautex’s BC5 controller, the KSB machines are claimed to take up almost 50% less space than previous comparable equipment.
Photo by AHA Plastik AHA Plastik makes plastic packaging including plastic buckets
Slovenian industrial group JUB-H d.d. has purchased troubled plastic packaging maker AHA Plastik d.o.o. from Slovenia’s Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC), the bank said in a statement.“We will endeavor to ensure sustainable growth and development of AHA Plastik. We believe that this transaction marks an important milestone in the development of AHA Plastik, both in terms of its long-term development and its potential,” JUB-H said in the statement.AHA Plastik specialises in making various packaging products with the use of plastics, and owns a plant in Kanal, Slovenia.With the use of “blow moulding, we can produce drums, canisters, fuel canisters and bottles ranging from 1l to 150l and reservoirs for different kinds of liquids,” according to the company. In addition to this, AHA Plastik makes crates, baskets and other plastic products.AHA Plastik is currently operated by a workforce of 77 employees, and in 2015, the packaging producer reported revenues of about €7.3m, according to data obtained by local business news site Finance.si. AHA Plastik exports its output to a number of European markets, including Italy, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Serbia, where the firm’s subsidiary is operated by eight employees and makes PVC lines for electrical installations.Export sales are responsible for some 33% of AHA Plastik’s revenues. The manufacturer's production facilities are ISO 9001 certified.
Photo by Raumedic AG From left, Martin Bayer, Martin Schenkel and Jobst Wagner at the ribbon cutting for the new Raumedic Inc. plant in Mills River, N.C.
German medical moulding specialist Raumedic has opened a $20m (€17.2m) new plant in Mills River, North Carolina, US, bolstering its ability to produce customised products for the North American market.
In the first stage of expansion, the company is making customized tubing, moulded parts and systems on 13,000 square feet of clean room space in accordance with ISO 14644 class 7 at its new Raumedic Inc. operation.
The company said it is investing over $20m (€17.2m) in the facility, which serves as the Helmbrechts, Germany-based company’s new U.S. headquarters. The site currently employs about 60 but expects the headcount to exceed 100 in the next few years.
Raumedic Inc. Chairman Martin Bayer said, “We all have created an American company that is based on its own tradition and history. We will fuse and develop German and American know-how in polymer processing in this region.”
“Here American pioneer spirit, German engineering, and the Swiss solid way of doing business come together and form the perfect foundation for a rising company,” commented Jobst Wagner, president of the Rehau Group, the conglomerate which created Raumedic for its medical business in 1971.
Raumedic extrudes and injection molds tubing, parts, catheters, and components for the medical and pharmaceutical industry. It also develops and produces high-precision pressure measurement systems with microchip technology for the indication areas of neuromonitoring, urology and traumatology.
The company processes medical-grade thermoplastic polymers and silicones at a total of four production sites in Germany — Helmbrechts, Feuchtwangen, Zw?nitz — and the new US site. It employs 680 worldwide.
Photo by Novares
French automotive component manufacturer Novares has now introduced in-mould labeling (IML) technology at its factory in Leiria, Portugal, for the surface finishing of plastic parts for the car industry.
The factory, which employs around 550 employees, produces complex plastic component systems such as instrument clusters, radio bezels and HVAC bezels for car interiors.
IML technology allows decorative or functional designs or lettering that would normally be printed as a label and attached to a plastic component to be integrated into the manufacture of the component.
The addition, said Novares 11 Dec, is in response to growing customer demand for tailored, decorative and functional components. As part of the upgrade, the company has also invested in equipment for high-pressure forming, trimming and automatic inspection.
Novares supplies parts to leading automotive suppliers including Faurecia, BHTC, Bosch, Continental, Kostal and Visteon from its Leiria plant.
The manufacturing unit employs various plastic processing technologies including injection, painting, laser etching, hot stamping and assembly.
“Novares is continually expanding its in-house capabilities and introducing the latest technologies to... [face] the growing challenges of the automotive market,“ said Pierre Boulet, CEO of Novares.
Photo by Voterfoll Pro Megapolis has invested in Dornier extrusion equipment for its Voterfoll Pro subsidiary to produce BOPP film in Shakhty, Russia.
Investment by Russian companies in plastics processing machinery fell by 26% to an estimated $531m (€467m) in 2015, according to a report by MRC, a market research consultancy based in Moscow.
Russia’s economic crisis started in 2014 and worsened in 2015, when figures from the Federal State Statistics Service show that GDP contracted by 3.7%.
The plastics machinery market in Russia is now half the $1bn level it reached in 2008. In 2013 machinery investments totalled $850m, but this decreased by 16% to $717m in 2014, before the 26% decline in 2015, according to MRC.
Injection moulding machinery was the segment that was hit hardest last year, with purchases falling by 39% from $277m in 2014 to $169m in 2015.
Investments in film extrusion lines, in fact, increased in 2015, rising to $146m from $124m in 2014.
MRC said: “The positive trend in the sector became possible due, in fact, [to] one investment from Voterfoll Pro company, subsidiary of Megapolis Group. Voterfoll Pro has installed two lines from German producer Dornier for the production of 3 and 5-layer BOPP films with 60,000 tonnes/year capacity in Shakhty, Rostov region.”
Investments in compounding lines also continued a positive trend, growing to $42m in 2015. MRC noted two investments: a ZSK Megacompounder from Coperion was installed by Kazanorgsintez for black PE pipe compounds; a PE compounding line from KraussMaffei for anti-corrosion coating of steel pipes of large diameter was installed by Metaclay.
The downturn in Russia’s construction sector impacted extrusion line investments: those for pipe production were $23m in 2015 (down from $34.8m in 2014), while lines for PVC profiles and panels amounted to $19m in 2015 ($40m in 2014).
Investments in extrusion blow moulding equipment declined to $28m in 2015 from $59m a year earlier.
MRC is part of polymer and commodity pricing group ICIS.